ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – There are new signs of life for Albuquerque’s old Rail Yards in downtown.
The property has sat lifeless for years and there has been plan after plan to revamp it, but now a group of volunteers is working to open a community market on site very soon.
Volunteers call it the “Rail Yards Market” and they hope to open it in a couple of months. The market would be the first tenant on the property, but volunteers say they’ll need a lot of community support to get it moving.
The property used to be the heartbeat of Albuquerque.
“75 percent of the work force here in the 70’s was employed here,” said Jacob Reinhardt, a volunteer with the Rail Yards Market.
But Friday, the property is virtually empty. The city bought it for $8.5 million in 2007 in an effort to preserve the historic site. Development has been slow though. From an outside look, the city has only really put up a large sign reading “The Yards” and revamped the parking lot.
However, there is hope to inject new life soon.
“It’s the community’s opportunity to make something awesome happen,” said Shari Berg, a volunteer with the Rail Yards Market.
A group of volunteers is now working to get the “Rail Yards Market” running.
“We had kind of wild idea that we’d try to put a market in that space,” said Chad Gruber, co-organizer of the Rail Yards Market.
The Rail Yards Market is planned to be a weekly market every Sunday inside the old blacksmith building that the city is working to revamp and rent out as a meeting space.
“Artists and growers and food vendors, there will be food trucks,” said Berg.
“Pretty much anything from the local community is going to be here,” said Reinhardt.
The idea is picking up steam and volunteers are trying to spread the word. About two dozen of them met in a weekly meeting on Fridays. Together, they’ve all formed the entire market plan by themselves. They’ve also got city approval and now hope to launch in early May.
Now, the group is hoping to get some more community help before they get the ball rolling.
“We’ve got to raise about $30,000 right now,” said Jacob Reinhardt.
That money would fund the market through November, paying for equipment rental, utility costs and more. Volunteers have launched an online donation campaign to raise money. They hope to complete the capital campaign in the next 30 days.
While it will be a challenge, organizers believe the market could be a big catalyst in revamping the Barelas and Downtown neighborhoods.
“The whole idea of the project is that it’s locally based and it’s trying to support the economy of Albuquerque which I think a lot of people feel is struggling right now,” said Reinhardt.
Organizers picked Sundays so that the market won’t conflict with the Saturday Growers Market near 8th and Central. They’re planning on a May 4, 2014 launch right now.
The City of Albuquerque says it also has big plans for the rest of the Rail Yards property that includes housing, shopping, an amphitheater and walking paths. The city says those plans could take another decade to fully complete.